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Windows 8 More Desperation Than Innovation

By David Richards | Friday | 26/10/2012

COMMENT: The launch of Windows 8 and the Surface tablet is more desperation than innovation for Microsoft.

A decade ago, Microsoft dominated the market with their Windows operating systems, Microsoft Office and related software. Now the Company is playing second fiddle to the likes of Google and Apple, who are carving up the OS market with innovative software and products that consumers find appealing.

For years Microsoft has seen Australias a market where they could price gouge consumers, with their software costing up to 60% more than what they charged US consumers, the situation has not gone unnoticed by Australian politicians.

Their recent arrogance in refusing to appear before a House of Representatives inquiry into IT pricing in Australia has seen politicians move to issue subpoenas against the giant US Company, which last week reported a 22% decline in revenue.

Committee member and Labor MP Ed Husic who has attacked Microsoft pricing practises several times claims, that the US software giant has"treated the Parliament with contempt." Husic added that he would be prompting the committee to pass a motion to subpoena documents pertinent to the inquiry, "it will certainly include emails and any information that was exchanged," added Husic.

The wanted information includes documents exchanged between Microsoft and the Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA,) which appeared before the inquiry on behalf of the tech companies.

 Microsoft blames Australia's 'comparatively expensive market', citing the inclusion of the GST as a point of differentiation, as well as higher labour, rent, marketing, training, supply chain and transport costs for their price gouging practises.

Today Microsoft is rolling out their new Windows OS in an attempt to slow down arch rival Apple who earlier reported a 24% jump in profits vs. a 22% decline for Microsoft who is more than 4 years behind their competitors.

After two unsuccessful attempts at trying to claw back market share in the smartphone market, Microsoft is having another crack at trying to convince consumers that they should buy a Windows 8 phone, as opposed to an Android or Apple smartphone.

They have also rolled out their own Surface tablet running their new Windows 8 OS a move that has upset long time PC partners who are selling their own hardware running the new OS.

In Australia, Microsoft is facing  criticism over a lack of Windows 8 details for consumers; they have removed traditional Windows menus including the once well-marketed Start button. Instead, users will face an opening screen of coloured tiles, simplified and hidden menus, and a new Windows Store for app downloads.

Overseas Microsoft is accelerating a move into their own retail stores in an effort to cut out traditional retailers, they are selling software and hardware online with stores like Harvey Norman, JB Hi Fi and the good Guys set to be losers in the long run.

By moving to online sales Microsoft is able to hold their expensive pricing into Australia by monitoring inbound IP addresses; a move that has seen Choice advocate the use of overseas IP addresses when going online to buy products from overseas web sites.

The Windows 8 Pro upgrade package costs $39.99 as a download in Australia, or $69.99 for a hardcopy. 

In Australia Microsoft has failed to deliver for consumers the same benefits US consumers get. Their content packages for movies and music have been available in the USA for several years but not in Australia despite promises four years ago that the Company was set to partner with Sanity to deliver an Australian music service for their Windows Media player.

Sanity executives walked away from the deal claiming that it was "impossible" dealing with Microsoft Australia executives.

Now consumers prefer Google and Apple products over Microsoft with many who have tested the new Windows 8 software claiming it is "awful".

The New York Times said recently that the new Windows 8 is a radical departure for anyone who has used Windows in the past two decades. The new interface is designed primarily for touch-screens. And based on some anecdotal responses from those who have tried it — professional reviewers and normal people alike — it's not exactly love at first sight.

"Needlessly confusing and hard to use" were just one of the comments from a professional reviewer.

When SmartHouse tried to use the software recently on a brand new all in one PC we found it not only intimidating, but unfriendly to use.

The new OS interface "baffles" consumers.

The New York Times' David Gallagher invited 5 people to try Windows 8 and filmed them while they did so. They came back with quotes like "I don't like this design."

"I think it's really confusing."

"Some of it feels intuitive once you've already done it, but it doesn't feel automatically intuitive."

"It should be easier. I shouldn't have to think about it."

"Beats me," [in response to a question about how to print something]

"I felt like the biggest computer user amateur ever. It made me feel stupid."

Analysts are claiming that it require a lot of effort to learn how to use Windows 8. Many Windows users who have always been tempted to try Macs but haven't because they don't want to learn a new system now have a perfect excuse to finally make the jump... because even if they stay with Windows, they're going to have to learn a new system.
In short, it seems like Microsoft's taking a big risk here.

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